Issues Concerning Personal Protective Equipment

March 24, 2020


IHA and hospitals across the state are continually receiving questions from legislators, the media and the public about hospitals’ essential medical supplies, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), as well as offers of donations and assistance.  This memo provides a brief overview of the key issues concerning PPE.

State Monitoring and Tracking of Available PPE at Hospitals Statewide
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has expanded the list of questions to hospitals in EMResource, replacing all of the current discrete inquiries to hospitals.  One of the key areas of focus in the daily survey is PPE, including respirators, gloves, gowns, and face shields. The Governor’s Office is requesting that all hospitals in all regions of the state submit the additional data that will be critical to helping IDPH monitor many aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak statewide, helping to guide future response strategies.

State Efforts to Obtain and Increase Medical Supplies
On Monday, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that the state has executed contracts to purchase 2.5 million N95 masks, 1 million disposable surgical masks, 11,000 gloves and 10,000 personal protection kits. In a press release, the Governor also outlined the state’s request for personal protective equipment (PPE) from the federal government and what the state has received to date. He also called for federal activation of the Defense Production Act to increase the production of essential medical supplies and their distribution to states in need.

Guidance on PPE
IDPH has issued “Recommended Guidance for requesting PPE during COVID-19 response” (click here). This guidance provides recommendations for PPE resource requests related to COVID-19 response. This includes requests from both the Illinois Pharmaceutical Stockpile (IPS) and the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance on “Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of PPE” (click here), “Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N95 Respirators” (click here), and “Recommended Guidance for Extended Use and Limited Reuse of N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirators in Healthcare Settings” (click here).

In light of the national shortage of one-use PPE, IHA is sharing a protocol (click here) developed by Nebraska Medicine to decontaminate these items so they can be safely used multiple times.  The toolkit uses ultraviolet light towers to irradiate high numbers of masks. This strategy can allow hospitals to greatly extend the supply of these critical personal protection items during the intense demand created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Production and Donations of Essential Medical Supplies
Many individuals and businesses may be looking for ways to help local hospitals, first responders and health departments during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) is partnering with the State to coordinate manufacturers’ production of medical supplies. Here is a link to the IMA initiative for manufacturers to switch their production lines to make key medical supplies, including Personal Protective Equipment such as N95 masks:

In addition, the Illinois Biotechnology Innovation Organization (iBIO), working with the State, has established a fund so people and organizations can donate money to help healthcare workers and first responders at this website:

The Illinois Department of Public Health has established a website and email address for individuals and organizations who want to donate PPE to their local hospitals and health departments:

Also, many local community groups and organizations are offering to make and package home-sewn masks.  We are encouraging local groups to contact their local hospitals directly or visit the websites of their local hospitals to check on their specific needs.

Contact us if you have any questions.